Many braces wearers are eager to have their dental devices removed to display their new smiles. However, straightened teeth can gradually revert back to their original position if a retainer isn't used after braces. Retainers are designed to prevent your teeth from shifting as the jawbone and gums stabilize around your newly-aligned teeth. Caring for your retainers will help ensure that your treatment progresses as planned. Follow these tips to care for your dental retainers after your braces are removed.

1. Brush Your Retainers

Each time you brush your teeth, also brush your retainers. Use a gentle toothpaste without abrasive ingredients, such as baking soda, as they can damage the retainers. Opt for toothpaste designed for people with canker sores, as these toothpastes do not contain strong cleaning agents such as sodium lauryl sulfate.

2. Disinfect Your Retainers

Disinfect your retainers once a day to kill any accumulated bacteria. Soak your retainers in a denture cleanser mixed with warm water. Rinse the retainer before returning it to your mouth. Your orthodontist may also recommend that you disinfect your retainers with a cleanser made specifically for retainers. Never place retainers in boiling water, in a dishwasher or washing machine, or in direct sunlight, as heat can damage them.

3. Wear Retainers Full-Time

Unless your orthodontist instructs otherwise, your retainers should be worn full-time to prevent your teeth from moving. The only time that your retainers should be removed is when you're brushing your teeth or when you're cleaning or disinfecting them. When the retainers are not in your mouth or being cleaned, they should always be kept protected in a retainer case.

4. Handle Retainers with Care

Retainers are highly breakable and should be handled carefully. Use clean fingers to position the retainer in your mouth. Do not bite the retainer into place, as this can cause it to crack or break. Also, do not flip the retainer with your tongue, as this can also cause damage to the device or to your teeth.

5. Modify Retainers If Needed

It's important to always bring your retainers to your orthodontic appointments. During your appointments, your orthodontist will carefully inspect the retainers to ensure that there are no cracks, chips or breaks. If there is any part of the retainer that is pinching your gums, your orthodontist may be able to modify the retainer to make it more comfortable for your mouth.

After the removal of your braces, it's crucial to wear and care for your retainers. For more information, contact your orthodontist like John C. Matunas D.D.S., PA.